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– the National Law Journal

What’s behind the recent increase in pedestrian deaths?

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

More people today are getting out and walking. However, pedestrian accidents have been on the rise across the country lately, and California is no exception. What should pedestrians and drivers alike know about this troubling trend?

California pedestrian fatality statistics

A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) found that in 2021, pedestrian fatalities hit their highest number in 40 years. In total, the report found that 7,485 pedestrians were killed in 2021 — up from 6,711 in 2020.

Unfortunately, California saw the largest number of pedestrian deaths of any state in 2021, recording 958 deaths. However, this number is a 6% decrease from the 1,026 pedestrian deaths recorded in 2020.

Why the upswing in pedestrian fatalities?

There are a variety of factors that may have contributed to the upswing in pedestrian fatalities.

Roads with higher speed limits are inherently more dangerous than roads with lower speed limits. Not all roads have sidewalks, meaning pedestrians must walk next to traffic on the roadway. Moreover, not all roads have adequate lighting meaning pedestrians must walk in darkness and therefore are more difficult to see.

In addition, in 2020 lighter traffic levels made drivers more apt to speed and take risks behind the wheel. However, as the number of cars on the road increased in 2021, these reckless driving practices continued, making our roads more dangerous for pedestrians.

Safety tips to consider

Pedestrians can take the following steps, courtesy of the California Office of Traffic Safety, to stay safe:

  1. Make yourself as visible as possible. Wear bright colors, especially if walking at night, and position yourself to be as visible to drivers as you can. This includes walking facing the direction of oncoming traffic.
  2. Walk on sidewalks and crosswalks when possible. While it might not always be possible depending on the area, use sidewalks and crosswalks whenever you can. Walk as far away from the road as you are able to if there are no sidewalks.
  3. Avoid distractions. Stay off your cell phone and avoid anything that could take your attention away from staying aware of your surroundings.
  4. Remain vigilant at all times. While drivers must do their part as well, ensure you are obeying the rules of the road, looking both ways before crossing the street, constantly watching for vehicles and more.

Pedestrian fatalities are tragic, and it takes the collective effort of all motorists to do their share to reduce the number of pedestrians who lose their lives after being struck by a car. Ultimately, motorists should take care to follow the rules of the road, obey speed limits, exercise pedestrian awareness and avoid impaired driving. These actions can play a role in reducing the number of pedestrian accidents in California.